Inside Facilities Staff Spotlight – Jennifer Gonsalves

Jennifer Gonsalves, Construction Project Manager.

A warm welcome to Jennifer Gonsalves, Construction Project Manager, who recently joined the Office of Facilities’ Planning and Construction team. She began working for the department in January 2022 as a construction project manager and transferred from the David Geffen School of Drama (DGSD) at Yale, where she was their Director of Facility Operations.

Jennifer managed and maintained eight buildings while at DGSD, including three theaters—The University Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Iseman Theater (in Green Hall). She balanced a continual list of work orders that spanned routine maintenance, outfitting new offices, and emergency roof leaks, to name a few. As a facilities director, she collaborated closely with colleagues in planning and construction. When a job opened in that department, it was a comfortable fit and aligned with her professional background and experience.

Before coming to Yale in 2018, Jennifer worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge as a project manager. For five years, she worked on construction projects, from office renovations to exterior envelope renovations and renewals. Jennifer loves adding value to a building or space and confesses to being somewhat “nerdy” about the construction side of her experience, which included managing tight timelines, developing client relationships and having intense attention to detail.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Jennifer has a B.S. in civil engineering, with a concentration in structural engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. After college, she and her husband settled in the Boston area. Not long after their first child was born, they wanted to be close to both families. New Haven was the perfect halfway point between her family in Rhode Island and her husband’s family in Queens, New York.

Now at Yale and settled in the New Haven area with her husband and two young sons, Jennifer is getting back to her true calling—construction and project management.

Via a recent video chat, Jennifer discussed her mantra of “being on time and on budget,” the value of internships, and living with a New York Yankees fan.

What was your first job after college?

I was a junior structural engineer at CDM Smith in Boston. It started as a college co-op (like an internship) and it became a full-time job. I worked on designs for water and wastewater treatment plants and learned about the design aspect of a project. That experience provided me with a valuable understanding of what architectural and engineering firms do and what they need from project managers. Add that to my subsequent work experience, and I have a complete picture of what goes into a project from start to finish.

Favorite childhood memory?

When I was a teenager, my mom and I would take long walks together during the summers. She’d come home from work, pick up some strawberry popsicles, and we’d stroll around the neighborhood or local area. It was a nice relaxing thing we’d do together. Today, I continue to do that with my family and make walks an exciting adventure we can share.

Congratulations on your new position. What was the first thing you tackled in your new role?

I’m learning the intricacies of being a Yale project manager (PM). I’m meeting with various facilities staff and reviewing contracts to understand what is being asked of the project team. Also, I’m shadowing other PM’s and planners and attending meetings to get a good snapshot of how we do things at Yale. My team and supervisor are very supportive and want me to be successful.

Favorite Yale memory, so far.

I would say getting hired by Yale is by far my favorite memory! While working at the David Geffen School of Drama, I attended many of the live stage shows. In the summer of 2019, before COVID-19 hit and shut a lot of stuff down, I got to see “Twelfth Night” at The University Theatre. The production was outstanding. I remember thinking how grateful I was to have been a part of it, even on the backend.

What are you looking forward to as a construction project manager?

I’m eager to get back to the construction side of things. I had a similar role at MIT, which I loved—working with the general contractor and the architects on each project. Being on the building maintenance side of things was an excellent experience. I now understand all aspects of building construction, from renovations to occupation and including standard maintenance and retrofitting. My goal for every project is to be on time and on budget!

What are you listening to, reading, or watching on Netflix?

I love to read, but there is not much time with two little ones—my sons are one and five. After putting the kids to sleep, my husband and I sit down to watch “Raising Dion.” It’s about a young boy with superpowers and how his mom shields him from people trying to exploit him. I recommend it!

Tell us a few fun facts about yourself.

My husband and I are both left-handed! We joke about it.

I’m a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. My husband is a die-hard New York Yankees fan. We make it work. We can talk about baseball in April—while it’s still early in the season. Come October, we don’t talk about it (laughs).